Thursday, December 27, 2007

9 Days ~ Christmas pictures!

What's a new laptop without a new printer/scanner/copier??
The annual shoving-of-the-face-into-the-stocking picture

And Maia seems to be catching on to this whole stocking thing!

The girls gave him a Christmas card this year that was addressed "2 Our Almost Daddy"

They've always had a special relationship...I think Nali gave up trying after a couple of years.

The annual Sheltie calendar - and Maia informed me that she's much cuter than any of the models in the calendar

Christmas is exhausting...

Friday, December 21, 2007

15 Days ~ Two Girls Wishing you a Very, Merry Christmas

A certain someone found the time to put up my Christmas tree this morning and surprise me by sending me this picture at work. ~I think one of them looks like a little elf~ I hope this picture makes you smile, and even though things are crazy, we are thinking of all our dear family and friends this Christmas season. It's hard for me some days to focus on Christmas, as this year it feels more like a stepping stone to a big day that's just around the corner! However, listening to Christmas music in my car on the way to work has really helped me reflect. Here is my absolute favorite this year, and I pray that the Gospel truth resounds in your heart this year as you share in the celebration with your loved ones:

Today a child is born on earth
Today the glory of God shines everywhere
For all the world
Oh Jesus born on this day
He is our light and salvation
Oh Jesus born on this day
He is the King of all nations
Behold the lamb of God has come
Behold the Savior is born
Sing of His love to everyone
Oh Jesus born on this day
Heavenly child in a manger
Oh Jesus born on this day
He is our Lord and our Savior
Today our hearts rejoice in Him
Today the light of His birth
Fills us with hope and brings peace on earth!
Oh Jesus born on this day
He is our light and salvation
Oh Jesus born on this day
He is the King of all nations
Today a child is born on earth
He is light, He is love, He is grace
Born on Christmas day
(version by Avalon)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

17 Days ~ Yes, two posts in one day

  • “At this time of year, sometimes it’s nice to pull aside from all of that and remember that what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ. I hope you and your family have a magnificent Christmas season. God bless you and Merry Christmas.”
  • "If we are so politically correct in this country that a person can't say 'enough of the nonsense with the political attack ads, could we pause for a few days and say Merry Christmas to each other,' then we're really, really in trouble as a country." ~ M. Huckabee

Nothing to say except....

17 DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

24 Days ~ "When sin becomes bitter, marriage becomes sweet"

I find it increasingly hard to believe that the big day is just around the corner. After all of this waiting, and currently still waiting, I find it more and more surreal that I'm getting to the end of all the wedding plans leading up to the moment when all of the "to-do"'s will come to fruition. We are continuing to setup house while I still have an apartment full of stuff (and there's a lot of stuff) which is quite indicative of how I feel tossed between two different worlds. There is the world characterized by my being a student (the end is finally in sight!) and living on my own, having items in my apartment that have traveled to each location these past several years and can finally be donated or completely trashed. The plastic trash can is finally being replaced with the sleek, stainless steel one, and the dishes are matching each other more and more everyday. Then there is the world of which I am still on the brink. I am so close to no longer living on my own, looking out for myself and my possessions, and yet I am still in the preparatory stage. It's as if I am looking out towards the horizon which is much closer than before, and yet still feels so far away at times. I am learning everyday that we will never stop learning about one another. As much as we know each other now, there are both daily quirks and deep emotions yet to be revealed. At times I know that my tendency to argue stems from stress and anticipation that I allow to build up. I am marrying a man who is open and honest when he is frustrated which has moved me to trusting all the more in the Lord's sovereignty for seeing fit that I become united with him. Because of this, my sinful tendency is laid bare. While quite uncomfortable, such exposure is both necessary and good for my sanctification. How wretched that we, poor sinners we are, put up a defense against something that is clearly intended for our good! Rather than accept such truth and encouragement from the one to whom I will soon wed, I actually spend time trying to justify my horrid attitude. Praise the Lord that even now, prior to the actual marriage, He is showing me just how crucial and instrumental my spouse is and will continuing being to my sanctification. Praise Him that such confessions and conversations are taking place now rather than ten years down the road...

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. ~Colossians 3:12-17 (verses 18-19 happen to address husbands and wives)
"Saying that marriage is a model of Christ and the church places it firmly on the basis of grace, because that is the way Christ took the church to be his bride, by grace alone. And that is how he sustains his relationship with the church—by grace alone." ~ John Piper

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

31 Days ~ And the Real Countdown Begins...

Two significant things on this, the one-month mark before JANUARY 5:

We received our first dish yesterday - a beautiful, round serving plate. My fiance's words: "Well, I guess there's no turning back now!"

I have not had a Coke in over a week. This is HUGE regardless of whether or not you are aware of my affection for carbonated beverages.

That's all for now!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

32 Days ~ A Week of Moving (or "A week in the life of a soon to be married woman who doesn't always seem to have her head on straight")

As requested, I figured I needed to at least post something on here. Unfortunately, this will be a post minus pictures since my camera is sitting at the apartment I am trying to move out of as quickly as possible. The more we got my fiance' moved into our townhome this past week, the less I wanted to be at my current place!

Here is a brief of some of the little events that come with moving that keep us laughing (or clenching our teeth in frustration):
  • Some people like shelf paper in the kitchen that reminds them of being in a bright white bathroom with rubber duckies. In fact, they like it SO much that they not only cover the cabinet shelves with such green and blue checkered paper, but they make it all the more blinding by covering the WALLS of the cabinets as well! I am not one of those people, but the residents before us apparently were.
  • Green and blue checkered shelf paper shows through beige shelf paper.
  • Dogs who have had to live with slippery hardwood floors for almost two years act as if they are in a world of eternal bliss when presented with a glorious apartment full of brand new plush carpet.
  • I will never again assume that I am as strong as I have convinced myself I am. This comes with breaking a perfectly decent desk while pulling for all its worth up the stairs as my patient fiance' is saying, "Wait, wait, wait." This is a lesson for anyone: if your fiance' is telling you to wait, don't pull one last time as hard as you can. The desk will break and send pieces of particle board, drawers, and nails flying in all directions.
  • Picking the perfect shower curtain for a bathroom is perhaps one of the most stressful jobs in setting up a new home. Who knew the choice between stripes and sheer would be so difficult??
  • Dogs who have grown accustomed to lounging on the bed tend to fall out of new beds that are twice as high off the ground (and that is assuming they actually get on top of it successfully - only one of them has made it this far).
  • Picnic chairs and barstools make for a cozy setup in the living room.
  • Some people like green and blue checkered shelf paper SO much that they incorporate it into linen closets and bathrooms.
  • It is always beneficial to go through cabinets to see if previous residents left any items behind. We discovered a white mug on the very top shelf of the kitchen cabinet last night. Not only does it serve as a rather unexpected memento of our first home, but it's also "Gibson" brand!
  • The most exciting thing for me was when our new bedroom furniture was delivered on Saturday. It's hard to believe that I am setting up furniture in my very own home that I am going to share with my husband.

Hopefully I will have pictures up soon, but I'm not promising anything! We still have my apartment to sort through and get moved over, which I am sure will take up the better part of this next month. One month?!?! Woohoo!!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

~ 54 Days ~

"O Sovereign Lord,
Let those that are united to me in tender ties
be precious in Thy sight and devoted to Thy glory.
Sanctify and prosper my domestic devotion, instruction, discipline, example, that my house may be a nursery for heaven."
May this be my constant prayer even now in preparation for the days and years to come...
(This excerpt from Valley of Vision was posted by Carolyn Mahaney over at GirlTalk.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

57 Days ~ Reflections in the Night Hours

I just returned home from a sweet
evening at my friend Eryn's house. She was so thoughtful in throwing my shower
this evening, and I was truly touched by the ladies who came. We spent the
evening simply talking and enjoying coffee and dessert, along with the opening
of my presents (nope, no pictures on the blog of these!). What moved me most,
however, was the time they spent praying at the end of the evening. If I had a
more broad thesaurus I would definitely use a word other than overwhelming for all of the thoughts and emotions flooding my mind
right now. But seeing as it is the only word that comes to mind, well then overwhelming will have to do!

Last week is best described as having
been in a dream state. I spent last Saturday in my wedding dress outdoors at one
of the most beautiful parks with what was perhaps the most perfect weather one
could ask for. I was in utter disbelief when I finally got to see the pictures,
disbelief that I was actually taking pictures in my own wedding dress... I
remember the wonderful times past in which those dear to me experienced their
own dreams coming to life:
holding her daughter in her arms for the very first time after years of earnest
prayer and many tears, going to visit
Funderstorm and
her newborn daughter in the hospital after months and months of anticipation,
and the many close,
forever friends who have experienced the glorious coming together in marriage that
I am entering into. The dream is slowly but surely unwrapping a layer at a time
as I attend showers, prepare wedding invitations, and think about those things
which pertain to the home I will soon be making with my husband.

As I have read through such books as When Sinners Say "I Do" these past couple of months, there have been
nights when I have wondered if I am really ready. After all these
years, years of watching other friends get married and begin their own families,
I have moments when I wonder if I am ready to give myself fully to another...
The answer is a confident yes, one completely dependent on the grace
and mercy of the Lord, that brings me to tears at the wonder and awe of such
commitment. The Lord actually saw fit for marriage to reflect Christ's
sacrificial relationship to the Church. So when my fiance', soon-to-be husband,
holds my face in his hands and says, "I am for your good. You now come first
above and beyond anything this world can promise or provide. You have my heart,
and we are now in this together," I can wholeheartedly believe him and trust in
his care. He really is for my good. My sinful nature is still at odds with this
undeserved reality, as I am prone to hold onto selfish notions for dear life,
even when I may not be fully aware that I am doing so. But even when I mess up,
whether it be saying something foolish without thinking or making a decision
without approaching it as our decision, he still desires to walk hand
in hand with me for as long as we have breath.

That is overwhelming, and
that is the beauty of Christ reflected through this man to whom I am giving my
life and love. His good is now more important than my own, and his interests are
now above my own. How incredibly Christ-exalting it is to see His Word actually
breathed out in the life of another. And this particular man is the one with
whom I get to share mine with for the rest of my days.

Praise the Lord, O my soul...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

69 Days ~ Overwhelming Thanks

I thought "Overwhelming Thanks" would be appropriate just in case all of the pictures to follow don't give away how we came away from our shower last night. Our small group from church threw a couples wedding shower TEXAS-style (picnic tablecloth, Texas flag on the wall, and coordinating balloons).

Rene' made red velvet cake! She also administered the "Pre-Newlywed Game" later on in the evening (see below). I was absolutely beside myself when I went into the dining room and saw those scrumptuous, gigantic pieces of red velvet cake.

Courtney provided the punch!

Sina provided the pound cake (oh yes, and we did bring leftovers back to my apartment)!

I had no idea how many people were planning on attending the shower, but needless to say, I was quite suprised!

Dan & Eryn - THE best best man and bridesmaid EVER (she is my sanity when my other girls are hundreds of miles away)

Jay & Lynn - I was given the wonderful honor of singing in their wedding just four weeks ago.

Christina - Also a newlywed as of August 18! Christina and her husband, Ryan, graciously volunteered to take pictures during the shower as well as keeping the list of all the gifts we received.

One of Ryan's pictures in attempt to "capture" the shower decorations. Trust me, this wasn't all of them and Christina had to take the camera away from him after just a few minutes...heehee

The "Pre-Newlywed Game" - I don't remember which question this was exactly, but here are a few that were asked: "Which of your dogs is really Bob's favorite?" "Bob, in one word how would you describe her personality?" - Just so you know, his answer was "her patience" and I thought he was going to say "weird."

There were a couple of moments when I had to fight back tears - I'm so sentimental that even reading the thoughtful, sweet cards was getting to me.

Need I say more? PYREX!

I have the wonderful joy of working with Teresa. She was the first person I met there two years ago and was the very first person who trained me on the job. Her and her husband, Ryan, recently married and I have been so encouraged by how content she is and how good he is to her. We were so pleasantly surprised by their coming to the shower, that I almost cried when they left for the evening (are we starting to see the trend here with my emotions?). And for the record, Ryan is from Louisiana...a fellow Cajun and lover of bayous and crawfish.

And last but not least, the WONDERFUL hosts for the evening, Tom and Nikki. I have been encouraged by them since attending our church, and we were so excited when they offered to host the shower. The evening was so sweet and lowkey, encouraging and overwhelming. Overwhelming because things are so surreal at this point. As I was opening the gifts, each bag and the contents therein, I couldn't help but feel so deeply touched by these wonderful brothers and sisters who so gladly wanted to help get us started as a married couple. I was most moved by the prayers last night, prayers that our marriage would deepen our intimacy with Christ as we enter into and grow in unity as one. I am all the more aware today, after an evening of such love and fellowship, of just how good it is when the body of Christ joins together. I am amazed, and all the moreso knowing that we still have two months until the wedding day!

Friday, October 19, 2007

78 Days ~ Sitting Down with the Calendar

  • October 27th - Couple's Shower at church
  • November 3rd - Bridal Portraits
  • November 9th - Shower hosted by my bridesmaid here in Louisville
  • November 17th - Shower in Fort Worth hosted by my matron of honor
  • November 23rd - Fiance' moving into the townhome while I'm still in Texas
  • November 26th - Final Exam Week
  • December - Work Work Work and moving my things into the townhome
  • December 29th - Driving to back to Texas!
(And let's not forget the little matter of schoolwork due between now and the end of November)
My reaction to my calendar?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

80 Days ~ La-La Land

Day is fading, but baby, I don’t mind
‘Cause sunlight is dancing in your eyes
And time is frozen but somehow flying by
Here with your hand holding mine
It just feels right kissing on a Sunday
I’ll hold you tight as if it were the last day
With all my might, I will keep the world away
It just feels right kissing you on a Sunday
Time is racing to the sound of my heart beating
Can the dreaming escape this life
Unfair, maybe, but know that I’m not leaving
Right now, baby, life is kind
Make this moment last for a lifetime
Don’t let it slip away
Play it over and over like your favorite song
And we’ll fit forever in a day
(Bebo Norman)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

86 Days ~ Immediate Changes for Long-Term Benefits

Time flies when you're having
time flies when you have each hour of the day booked up on the
calendar...time flies when you are staring at your wedding to-do's and your
school to-do's knowing full well that one is clearly more fun than the other.
Yes, time flies. And I even forgot to mention that time flies when you have
planned your wedding immediately following the already crazy holiday season! So,
no, I haven't had writer's block this past week. If anything, I feel like I have
TOO much to write and therefore would struggle to fit it all into one or two
entries. The days feel as if they are becoming shorter and shorter, and I am
having a hard time believing that my first wedding shower is just over two weeks

I made a pretty significant
decision this past week while my fiance' was away, one that required much
thought and prayer. With things being so quiet during the break from school, it
seemed that I was provided just the right time to think through such a decision.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am somewhat of a nerd. I say that somewhat
jokingly, but in all seriousness, I have been academically-driven throughout my
years of education. While I have never been driven to achieve top honors, I have
still wanted to excel in my studies. This is still an important area,
particularly in regard to personal stewardship, but it has proven to be a vice
at times as well. While I savor most of the areas of study I have been given an
opportunity to dive into, I am at times too concerned with the status benefits.
I am that student who immediately goes to the syllabus at the start of a new
semester, marking my calendar accordingly and examining the professor's grading
scale. I am a nerd in how diligently I keep track of such things. If this seems
like a lot of background data for a decision I haven't even mentioned yet, bear
with me.

have decided to change my degree track in the Biblical Counseling program from
Master of Divinity to Master of Arts. What this means is that rather than
continuing in a program that requires upwards of 90 credit hours, I will now
only be responsible for 50 in order to graduate. Some may think I was crazy for
even pursuing the M.Div to begin with, but that would be wrong thinking and
incorrect. I began school two years ago in pursuit of the M.Div because I wanted
to take the additional requirements. After making it through an extremely
liberal school of theology in undergrad, I yearned for classes full of sound
theology, ones that savored and found inexpressible joy in the truth of the Word
of God. I am switching to the M.A. at a good time because I have absolutely no
regrets about the classes I have taken thus far that will not count toward my
new degree track. I am SO thankful I took Greek and Hebrew, even if they won't
count for credit toward the masters degree with which I will be graduating.
(Sidenote: I don't think seminary is the ultimate requirement for ministers of
the Gospel - I have known plenty who only went so far as a bachelor's degree -
but I have serious reservations about someone who desires to lead a congregation
when they have not studied at such a level.) The counseling classes are
virtually the same for both, and all of the classes I have left to take are
requirements for both tracks.

What drove me to
I did not make this decision simply because Hebrew is hard...
No, I
made this decision for myself, and not with an attitude that claims
this should
be the expectation or standard for anyone else in a similar
season of life.
Quite simply, preparation for marriage has compelled me to
re-evaluate pretty
much every aspect and priority in my life. I stepped back
this past week and
honestly asked myself if I need to pursue a Master of
Divinity. Do I need to be
pursuing such a saturated degree when the Master
of Arts is designed precisely
for the area to which I feel called. I have no
desire at this point to pursue a
Ph.D; I have no reason to do so. And I am
not going to be pastoring a church, hehe -- if I had such a desire, I am CLEARLY
at the wrong school! I desire to
enter into a biblical counseling setting
in which I can serve as an instrument
of hope which comes only from the Word
of God. The bigger picture is
characterized by my passion to encourage as a
godly wife and woman in the
church. These are not desires which require a
more prominent degree. The bigger
picture is also achieved by my decisions
in the more immediate future. I would
much rather be finished with school,
not only to be that much closer to actually
being able to counsel others,
but also to help that much more in getting my
husband through school. One of
the many ways I have been encouraged during my
time at Southern is by women
who actually work full-time and see it as the
current way in which they are
serving their husbands. That excites me so! The
Lord has provided a
wonderful season in which I get to serve my husband in such
a way that
allows him more freedom to study and prepare for the position to
which he
has clearly been

What have I learned from all of this?

  • Wisdom is not defined by an academic title or pursuit.
  • I admire women in both the Master of Divinity and the Master of Arts tracks.
  • Cultivating a home of Christ-centered love and submission should not be put aside, but rather something which begins from day one.
  • I am thankful more than ever, even on the most stressful of days, for the job the Lord has provided.
  • I am beginning to see the stark contrast between the many definitions of success in our culture.
  • Preparation and focused goals are not easy, and I am incapable of achieving anything of worth in this life apart from the strengthening and empowering of the Holy Spirit.
  • I like Diet Coke with Lime.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

92 Days ~ While trying to be productive...

And no, none of of these dogs are mine! I insist on drawing the line with their Christmas collars that jingle and Nali's Barbie pink fleece jacket that has her name embroidered on the side.

Monday, October 01, 2007

96 Days ~ Witnessing and Sharing in the Joy

Those whom I have seen in the past couple of days are probably getting tired of me saying that I feel like I ran a marathon this weekend. I was so worn out from the weekend that I slept for nine hours solid last night. Nine hours is unheard of in my world. Although I was exhausted, it was well worth the time--and voice--spent. When I was first asked to sing in my dear friend's wedding, along with our praise band from church, I was in disbelief at the song list she handed over. Ten songs! Ten songs instrumental? No no, that would be ten songs she was asking me to sing during the ceremony. Whew...I knew that my pipes were about to be put to the test, and I admittedly don't have a great deal of vocal endurance. The rehearsal was shaky, partly due to feeling like I was having to remind some of those around me that we needed to perform the music as the bride requested, rather than throw in our own renditions.... If she asked specifically for me to sing something acapella at this point during the service, then we needed be willing as a team to serve the bride and groom in that way. If she requested that the key be changed in order that I sing more comfortably, then we needed to graciously agree to do so. I wasn't terribly surprised at the rehearsal being a little scattered, and thankfully the wedding party was not distracted by our practice and working out of the kinks. I was still a little nervous, though, and even moreso as I drove home and felt the tension in my throat.

However, the Lord was glorified and I was more than honored to take part in what was a true worship experience! Even though the ceremony was longer than any I have ever attended, the celebration was glorious. Each element of the ceremony was purposeful, and the transition from one thing to the next was seamless. I was particularly moved when Lynn walked down at the last verse of "Be Thou My Vision," and for a moment we caught a glimpse of that vision glorious of the Bride walking toward the Bridegroom. There were minimal tears shed on her part; instead, she was beaming in inexpressible joy throughout the hour. Our pastor gave an incredibly Christ-centered sermon, addressing first those who may not be believers and then ending with the Church and the couple particularly. The picture before me was the embodiment of Psalm 16, "at Your right hand are pleasures evermore," Ephesians 5, "as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her," the reality of the Gospel, and what better song to sing together as witnesses to this union of two than, "Then sings my soul..." It was absolutely beautiful.

I teared up early in the service as we were leading the congregation in singing "Great is Thy Faithfulness." I happened to look up during the chorus just as Lynn was looking back at me from where she was standing next to her groom. She had an indescribable expression as she sang, "All I have needed Thy hand hath provided," and I was moved to praise for how good the Lord truly is to His children. This marriage ceremony was a reminder of God's steadfast love and how that was poured out through His Son who has provided us riches and goodness measures beyond what we ever deserved. And to think that He specifically designed marriage to reflect and live out such love, grace, and sacrifice for another...

I did not think to bring a camera to the wedding (silly, yes), but here are some from a sweet sister who was also there to witness the joyous celebration. You can also see more details from the wedding on her

The handsome groom ~ The bride's pastor from her hometown who gave the opening prayer and giving away of the bride ~ Our beloved pastor who gave the sermon
"Til death do us part..."

The beautiful bride! I should not have been surprised at how carefully she thought through each detail of the reception, details fitting for anyone present. There was even a children's buffet and corner of the room piled with entertaining toys and games. And I must say, I was also quite impressed by the homemade addition she made to her gown up at the neckline!

Friday, September 28, 2007

99 Days!!! ~ Whew!

I am so relieved that we are down to the double-digits for
the wedding countdown. This semester has been a blur, and I find it hard to
believe that Fall Break is next week. Yes, there are plenty of
items left on the ever-increasing To-Do List, but I am looking forward to the
day when I can say that I have survived this semester...

The highlight of the school semester has been our Marriage Enrichment class. The class is in the middle of a three-week segment of communication exercises. Dr. Cutrer has us divided into small groups and within those groups we are instructed to pick a topic for discussion with our spouse/fiance'. The topics are intended to be neutral issues the two can commonly agree upon, rather than one broadsiding the other with some kind of attack. While the spouses are in the hot seat, the rest of the small group listens and observes how they are relating to one another (and whether or not they are really listening). I know that some can treat these as they are titled, mere "exercises," but there is so much to glean from such an assignment. Rather than treating it as an assignment, our small group as a whole seems to have really savored the opportunity to learn from one another. It's amazing what can be revealed when you are forced in such a setting to examine your tone of voice, nonverbals, and ability to actually listen in the presence of others. You also learn that men and women simply communicate in different ways on different levels, and much tension and anger can be alleviated when such is considered while trying to talk through an important or seemingly insignificant issue (I say that because I have been amazed at how quickly a "non-issue" escalates into one that is anything but insignificant).

With that said, here are more quotes from When Sinners Say "I Do", the book I have been reading during the few winks of spare time I have:

  • This might be a helpful illustration for understanding the operation of remaining sin. Original sin fills the "engine" of our hearts with the "oil" of depravity--dark, greasy, and staining everything it touches. Circumstances come along and heat the engine. When the engine is hot--when events in our lives test our hearts--whatever is in the engine spews out. The heat (the circumstances) did not fill the engine with oil, it simply revealed what was in the engine. ~p. 70-71
  • Your spouse was a strategic choice made by a wise and loving God. Selected by Him, for you, from the beginning of the world, your spouse is an essential part of God's rescue mission for your life. Often a spouse plays his or her part by raising the engine temperature and heating the oil. But if we're wisely honest we will realize that God is behind it all, revealing the familiar sin so that it might be overcome by amazing grace. ~p. 71
  • It's not wrong to desire appropriate things like respect or affection from our spouses. But it is very tempting to justify demands by thinking of them as needs and then to punish one another if those needs are not satisfied. A needs-based marriage does not testify to God's glory; it is focused on personal demands competing for supremacy. ~p. 74
  • Sinners who say "I do" have a different road to travel. It is the road of astonishing, undeserved grace--a grace so remarkable that it shows us the problem and then delivers the solution. ~p. 75

Thursday, September 27, 2007

~ 100 DAYS ~

The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord
She is His new creation by water and the Word
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

101 Days ~ Unexpected Awe

How often do you have a moment wherein you are overcome with complete awe? One of those moments when the awe is so great you find yourself incapable of uttering any words. The silence speaks for itself and anything spoken would cheapen or ruin the beauty. I was on my way to work this morning, running through the day's schedule as usual and wondering what was in store for the hours ahead. As I exited the highway, I looked up at this brilliant display. I somehow managed to capture it on my phone (thankfully there were no cars around, and no, I am not in the habit of taking pictures while behind the wheel). When all around me is busy, tiresome and hectic, I am filled at such unanticipated moments with words of rest and assurance ~ Peace, be still. Be still and know that I am God. Come to Me all ye who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. ~ Such grace, love and mercy that He softly reminds us of such truth at times when He knows we need those reminders most..

Saturday, September 22, 2007

105 Days ~ It's becoming real!

Those were his words as we finished signing our names to the lease for our TOWNHOME! My reactions were a little different -- I kept messing up the application due to the overwhelming excitement I had knowing that this really is all starting to sink in. We are almost at the double-digit mark of how many days are left until the wedding, and I cannot express just how giddy I was in the leasing office knowing that my fiance' will be moving in first in just two months!! We are actually going to live here, making our very first home together... I am just going to close this post with that to prevent this from becoming the hundredth time I've happy cried this week~

Thursday, September 20, 2007

107 Days ~ "Together with their parents..."

Are these really our invitations with our names on them inviting guests to attend our wedding?!?! Oh my goodness...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

110 Days ~ Trials Together

If this post comes across as a somewhat scattered compilation of thoughts, then I will have successfully given my faithful readers a glimpse of how things have been going this past week. Most days are spent in tension between wondering if I should laugh or cry, and having an indescribable sense of sheer excitement or moments of silent wonder at how the Lord brings about trials. I don't know that I could adequately explain how those emotions all work together, but they are somehow doing that in me even now.
  • Be still, and know that I am God... -Psalm 46:10

This past week began with rough, honestly unbelievable, news coming from all directions. My mother-in-law received test results that only showed other cancerous (or the potential) spots. She began chemotherapy on Friday and will do so on that day of the week until October. Once her two twelve-week rounds of chemo are completed, they will then perform surgery. Radiation will inevitably follow, which means that she will, once again, be away from the comfort of her own home since both surgery and radiation will take place at the hospital in Houston. She had just returned home from an entire summer spent taking care of her own mother when the lumps were discovered, and about the time she was getting settled, she found herself going back and forth once again. Paired with this came news of our pastor's wife. At thirty six weeks pregnant with her fourth child, she too has been diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctor confirmed that the cancer is aggressive, which means they will be inducing the baby earlier than the due date (this week). She will only have a week of rest before they begin the necessary steps to treatment.

  • Sometimes the way is lonely, and steep and filled with pain ~ so if your sky is dark and pours the rain ~ then cry to Jesus, cry to Jesus cry to Jesus and live -Chris Rice

I finally broke down this week (and not just once) at how completely overwhelming all of this was. The only way I can describe it is that there was this tension between grieving the pain of such news and continuing in excitement over planning my own wedding. Questions flooded my mind all week as to how I should and should not respond or feel about all of this. Everything came to a head on Friday night when my fiance' sat me down and let me cry for quite some time. He then held my face, looked into my eyes and said, "No matter what happens, the Lord is good." How often has joy been restored by one simple statement? Such does not happen with me often. In fact, I'm one who often needs to be poked and prodded when I'm down in order to pull me back up. But this time, it took one simple statement which I knew was an encouraging word from the Lord. He truly is good, and He is faithful to hold us during the dark times. The professor teaching our marriage class provided us an incredible statement to reflect upon early in the semester: "Trials are better when faced together." Little did I know at the time just how real such a statement would become in a matter of days and hours. Think about this for a moment - our lives are not what we thought they would be this time last week. My life is not what I was expecting it to be a matter of days ago, much less last week. The Lord knows exactly what we need. He knows exactly where to pierce us, the very things that will move us to fall at His feet. He knows such things because He knows us better than we know ourselves. This is astonishing, should leave us utterly humbled and speechless, and I don't know that we pause often enough to reflect on such truth.

  • How would I know the morning If I knew not midnight? - Nichole Nordeman

There are things I am oblivious to at this point in my life, things the Lord is working in that remain unknown. But what I do know is that which I have already stated and have been praying continually for those around me who are hurting in ways I could not begin to imagine - The Lord is good and does all things for our good and ultimately for His own glory. All things work together for good and the trials truly are better when faced together. Not easier by any means, but I am learning in ways I clearly was not expecting that we are called to walk through this valley together and not alone.

Brother, let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace
To let you be my servant, too
I will hold the Christlight for you
In the night-time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the peace you long to hear
I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh I'll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we've seen this journey through

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Monday, September 03, 2007

124 Days ~ When Sinners Say "I Do"

"When Sinners Say 'I Do'..." The title of the book quickly grabbed my attention a few weeks ago. Not only is the author affiliated with Sovereign Grace Ministries, but every review emphasized the author's focus on mercy and forgiveness in marriage. Needless to say, I was interested. I also requested the trusted opinion of my dear friend and fellow reader who also gave a clear and enthusiastic recommendation of Dave Harvey's book (and not because she's trying to sell books at Lifeway). But wait a second...was I crazy these past few weeks to think that I could squeeze in yet another book, and not one required for class? I walked in and out of Lifeway a couple of times this past week with other tasks in mind, whether buying a card for a friend or purchasing the next book on our reading schedule for Systematic Theology. Everytime I thought about purchasing this book, one more book to add to my seemingly endless collection, images came to mind of wedding plans, reading for all of my classes, working 35 hours each week, keeping up with the Hebrew language, and remembering to eat and sleep somewhere in between. No, I thought to myself, I am not going to buy another book right now. How silly to think that I would actually have the time! Well, I bought it on Thursday. Other thoughts came to mind as I was skimming over the chapter titles and deciding that I was going to invest in this particular book: reading from older, much wiser men and women on the matter of forgiveness and grace in marriage, the benefit of incorporating a book into devotional time spent with the Lord. Thoughts of school and work were put on the backburner as I remembered something a professor recently mentioned in one of my classes: "Not spending time with God is like deciding not to breathe." Maybe it sounds extreme at first, but think of the admitted truth behind such a statement. What are all of these tasks and events that fill up our days and weeks when our lives are void of devotional time with the Lord? That is precisely how it feels, as if the life has been zapped from things that really are good in and of themselves. But when we are not focused on Christ, when we tell ourselves day in and day out that we just don't have the time to rise early or stay up a little while longer at night to meditate on His Word, to spend time on our knees in prayer (both praise and confession), we find ourselves looking back on the day wondering why such a busy calendar of events could feel so empty... I am not an expert in the art of book reviews. I would much rather just provide a few quotes that have already been of great conviction in the first couple of chapters.
  • "What do all of us do in our marriages in some way? We all tend to deny our sin (while pointing out the sin of the other). By denying our sin, we devalue grace. . . . in ways that are very practical, Jesus is the only solution. . . . grace makes new beginnings possible. It challenged me to live like I really believe I can be a tool of God's grace." ~p. 12, Paul David Tripp
  • "We must not ignore our sin, because it is the very context where the gospel shines the brightest. Grace is truly amazing because of what we were saved from." ~p. 16
  • "...the gospel is an endless fountain of God's grace in your marriage. To become a good theologian and to be able to look forward to a lifelong, thriving marriage, you must have a clear understanding of the gospel. Without it, you cannot see God, yourself, or your marriage for what they truly are." ~p. 25
  • "But for us to become more like Christ, we must reckon with the fact that we are sinners; forgiven, yes, but still battling the inward drive to turn away from God to ourselves. Without such biblical clarity, we have no context for the cross and no ongoing awareness of our need for grace and mercy." ~p.29
  • "...until we truly understand the problem, we won't savor the solution. Isn't that your testimony? Haven't you seen that the more you comprehend the scope of sin's awfulness, the more quickly you flee to the Savior, now revealed anew in His glory, holiness, beauty, and power?" ~p. 30
If you are wondering as to the nature and wisdom of a particular book, you can at least know the author is off to a good start when the starting point of all content is the foundation and centrality of the Gospel. I began reading the introductory material (written by Paul David Tripp, another Gospel-centered, excellent author) after an argument I had with my fiance' that began and ended in a manner rather commonplace in regard to my own sin and manner of reaction. I look back at that exchange now and can see so clearly (clarity in hindsight, yes) the patterns that are so prevalent in how I respond to the man who is going to be my husband in a few short months. I have much to learn, and I know that many moments of confession and seeking forgiveness are in store for the future. But I also know that I am a sinner saved by grace. I am responsible for my own sin, rather than the tendency to project onto him and not confront myself. Through prayer, repentance, and time truly spent with the Lord, I hope and trust that He will make me into the tool of grace I am intended to be as a wife and life partner to this godly, patient, Christ-centered man.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

126 Days ~ A Friend's Dream

Do you remember your dreams from the night before? Are you bold enough to share them with others, even when they are the kind that make very little sense? One of my oldest and dearest friends emailed me yesterday for the simple reason of telling me about her dream from the night before. I sat at work cracking up as I read through it, not only because of how random the dream was but because Stef has always managed to make me laugh in a way that is unique to her and no one else. So if you read the following recollection and you are left in utter confusion and thinking to yourself that I have a weird sense of humor, well...hmm. This would not have been nearly as funny had it come from someone else with whom I haven't shared such a history. For the rest of you, try to imagine yourself retelling a dream to someone exactly as it occurred in your brain...

"I don't know
why my brain decided to dream about your wedding... but it did. I dreamt
that I was running late, and I didn't think ahead of time, so i didn't have any
clean nice clothes. I didn't know what I was going to do... but I was
already running late. So I figured, I'd rather wear dumb clothes and get
to see you walking down the aisle than try to find something nice to wear and
miss that part. So there I went, in a brown shirt and khakis. Like I
said, I was running late... so there weren't many seats open. I didn't
know anyone at the wedding, and I was by myself, so I had to ask these strangers
to scoot over so i could sit (of course, I'm embarrassed because of what I'm
wearing, and because now that I"m late, I get the good aisle seat... and I had
no idea of this person I was asking to scoot over was really close to you, and
wanted to make sure she had the isle seat.) Then I noticed a whole empty
row at the front and went and sat in that. I wondered why no one had taken
that row... and was scared it might be for family... but I saw everyone in
your family already seated. So I figured what they hey. Then I
looked back toward the back of the church where you would enter, and I saw you
in your gown from a distance. I thought... that's funny, everyone
else has to walk down the aisle first, but when I looked back you were
gone. This is where it gets weird... and I'm probably not going to be able
to explain it well: So the braidesmaids started to come down the aisle,
but they were in that outfit that Sandie was wearing at the end of Grease, when
they're at the fair. Those black outfit with the really high leather
pants. On the back it said "Grease Lightnin'." And they were walking
with a strut. I thought, Oh, I didn't know she was having a theme wedding.
Somehow, I'm at the back of the church now, and I'm with Jenny
*one of my
We see an altercation, and then someone shoot a guy in a
baseball uniform, and then throw him in a pizza box...but the whole thing looked
pretty fake (Now in my dream, there was a story like this all over the
news... it was some college baseball player, and he got killed and thrown
in a pizza box to see if he would bounce) A few people were calling the
police... but I thought it was something to do with the wedding. Then
the minister turned and look toward the gunman and said that Christ died for us
when we were still sinners, so then I knew it was part of the
message. He started to speak about how God "sweeps" up our mistakes.
At this point, I looked at the floor and it was COVERED in filth, and there was
a hand sweeper right next to me. So I proceed to sweep the floor. As
I make my to the front (I'm on my hands and knees sweeping) I realize that
I'm on an incline, and that I have no traction... so I start sliding. Now
all the attention is taken off the wedding, and everyone is watching me
sliding. I now realize that "what in the world was I doing sweeping the
floor at your wedding?" So anyway, I'm sliding sliding and I can't
stop... so I position myself to crash into a pew to stop my sliding. I
told you this was weird. Then your wedding party comes out again with
costumes and they do a chaotic scene from Pirates of the Caribbean. There
was a lot of swashbuckling and screaming... and it was just chaos.
Then you came out with huge sunglasses on, and you played a role too. You
came over by me (I'm in the front row again somehow) and said "this is kind of
dragging on isn't it? i didn't plan for it to be so long." Then you
asked me if I would play a role, and go get a pineapple to put on this big totem
pole thing. Then Phoebe
*Stef's little dog* was there (I don't know how
she got there), and she started barking. I felt really bad... but you came
over and played with her. Then there was more scenes... and you coming out
in different outfits... but never in your wedding gown to do the vows.
Then Jarrod *
Stef's husband* woke me up, and I asked him to let me go back
to sleep so I could see what your wedding dress looked like... but I never got
the dream back. Weird."

Monday, August 27, 2007

131 Days ~ he knows good music

For reasons unknown, I was never a huge fan of Bebo Norman. I'm not exactly sure why considering the obvious gift of music he possesses. But this weekend, Bob and I had a "moment." He has started compiling music on his iPod that we know we want played at the reception, and included was a song I had not previously heard. This song reflects our relationship in such a unique way. I responded in a manner similar to when I listen to Steven Curtis Chapman's "What I Really Want To Say." Writing comes easily to me, but voicing the sum of my feelings seems nothing short of impossible at times. So as I sat on my couch with tears streaming down my face, I decided that I am a Bebo fan after all...

To Find My Way to You

"Well I can’t find the words to say

Just to make, make this go way

So you just bleed and I can’t sleep tonight

‘Cause it’s hard to see just what you mean

Across the lines that bring your voice to me

But I can hear your every tear when you cry

And, oh love, when you say to me

That your heart breaks every time I leave

I would set out across the sea

Just to find my way to you

Well I don’t know which way to go

So I search the stars, basking in the glow

But they all fall down without a sound from the sky

Well I still can’t find the words to say

But you, my love, love me anyway

So just go to sleep, and my heart will keep the time

‘Cause, oh love, when you say to me

That my kiss is the breath you breathe

I would wake up from a thousand dreams

Just to find my way to you"

Friday, August 24, 2007

134 Days ~ "Tune my heart to sing Thy grace"

This post serves to inform my faithful readers that my fiance' has finally posted a new entry on his blog!! WARNING: Yours truly started the rant to which he refers; he is simply more systematic in discussion of the issue. Follow the link below to his post:

Monday, August 20, 2007

138 Days ~ It's starting to sink in

I drove to David's Bridal as fast as I could yesterday after church. Fifteen minutes later, I was walking back out of the store with a particularly heavy garment bag. The only word I can muster for how it felt to walk out with dress in hand was giddy. I wanted to call everyone I knew to tell them that I had finally made the last payment on my wedding gown (and some of you I did call!). My sweet friend and bridesmaid Eryn is letting me keep it at her place for the next few months. She was with me when I found the dress back in June and cried with me when I turned around and saw my reflection in the mirror. I've been so thankful for the sweet friendship that has been developing this past year, thankful that she is one I can call on a total whim for such things as going to see "Becoming Jane" (if you're a girl and love Jane Austen, go see the movie!).
Eryn is also a sweet reminder of home. While Bob's side of the wedding party is represented here in Louisville, Eryn is the only one of my girls who is able to be here with me week to week as plans are beginning to come together. It makes me all the more antsy for the next few months and for when I finally get to travel down to Texas and see the rest of my family and friends for the glorious celebration!

Monday, August 06, 2007

152 Days ~ Fun is Bowling at Lucky Strike!

The other Jenn won a free night of bowling downtown at Lucky Strike a couple of weeks ago. Not only is it a great atmosphere complete with couches and a fun menu, but the bowling alley is right in the midst of 4th Street Live (the area downtown blocked off for outdoor shopping and restaurants. This was the second time I was invited to join a group for free bowling at Lucky Strike - I guess that means I have some really *lucky* friends (either that or they just bowl better than I do...)
The key to winning a free game of bowling for you and your friends is to land a strike when the front pin is lit with a red light. As you can see, these people really like their lights! You can barely even make out the arrows on the floor because the lighting is so crazy~

Joe is pretty much the king of bowling in my closer circle of friends. He's the one who landed the very first free night of bowling, only to have Jenn win her own party during the fun event.

This is where I pause in the midst of all the fun bowling pictures and make mention of the men in the above picture - Joe, Andrew, and Bob. They have been close friends since college, and the two moved up here (along with another friend of ours, the best man in our wedding, who was unable to attend the bowling party) a year after us to attend seminary. I have personally been blessed to see how they have not only grown as godly men individually, but to also witness how their friendship has continued to grow and sharpen one another. I am encouraged by how diligent they remain in spurring one another on, whether during days of celebration or times of simply needing a friend in close proximity to lean upon.

In one sense the days draw another sense, five months is a lengthy amount of time in which I'm learning great patience...

Thankful for the old friends and the new!!
Brian accepted the invitation to join in our wedding day as one of Bob's groomsmen. The day would not be the same without him there (he is uncle to Nali and Maia after all).

Jenn and Rachel~ Jenn works diligently alongside some of the guys at a job that often proves difficult in matters of enjoyment. She is one of those girls whom I know is a kindred spirit and wish I could spend much more time with than the Lord sees fit during this particular season. (Rachel was in town until starting the fall semester back up. Her father is a professor of theology at
Southern and she comes in each summer to spend time with the family. We were glad to meet her and enjoy some good bowling time!)

Nothing to note except for the fact that I absolutely love this picture. I still have a hard time believing that I actually get to marry him in just five months~